E-envoy calls for pragmatic e-government roll-out

E-envoy Andrew Pinder has called for public sector IT professionals to a take a "pragmatic" approach to prime minister Tony...

E-envoy Andrew Pinder has called for public sector IT professionals to a take a "pragmatic" approach to prime minister Tony Blair's e-government targets.

Speaking at the launch of the Society of IT Management's annual conference in Brighton on 7 October, Pinder indicated that he would be satisfied if only major services were online by the government-set target of 2005.

He urged Socitm members to first address "those transactions which were high in volume" and would "encourage take-up of electronic services".

Pinder also called for councils to segment their customer base and market services to appeal to different groups.

He said customer segmentation was "the key" to rapid take-up of services and "vital" in bridging the digital divide and reaching the 40% of the population who had never used the Internet.

The e-envoy also gave his support to groups of local authorities pooling resources to deliver common systems and services rather than duplicating e-government work.

In light of the US terror attacks, Pinder emphasised the importance of security and pointed to the Government Gateway as a secure means of access available to local authorities.

"It is the kind of expensive wheel which definitely should not be reinvented," he said.

When asked about portals and the apparent competition between government, local government and others for the front-end business by Socitm members, Pinder said he was keen to see UKOnline as a successful national citizen and business portal, but it was just one of many possible ways of gaining access to services.

He spoke of his enthusiasm for engaging the voluntary sector in providing service access and promised £20m to the Citizens Advice Bureau service to introduce electronic access.

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